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Botanising in the Miocene

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Botanising in the Miocene

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

2013 Lucy Cranwell Lecture

Jennifer Bannister, Research Associate, Botany Department, University of Otago.

Jennifer Bannister, Research Associate, Botany Department, University of Otago.

A maar lake deposit of laminated diatomite has provided a wealth of evidence for a warm temperate/subtropical rainforest in Otago in the early Miocene.

Diatoms, algal cysts, freshwater sponges, fish and coprolites provide evidence of life in a deep, still lake, while leaves flowers, pollen, fruits and insects provide an amazing window into life in the surrounding rainforest.

After a career teaching in England Jennifer took early retirement and moved to New Zealand in 1994 after marrying Peter Bannister who was Professor of Botany at the University of Otago. They had both graduated in Botany at the University of Nottingham in 1960.

Since 2003, Jennifer has been working with Daphne Lee and her Marsden-funded paleobotany research team in the Geology Department at the University of Otago studying plant macrofossils from sites in Otago and Southland.

"Mainly I prepare cuticles from fossil leaves and reference leaves and using both cuticle and leaf features attempt to identify them."

"New Zealand has some of the best preserved Cenozoic plant fossils in the world, and this research is yielding exciting results, with many papers and conference presentations."